Monday, 3 May 2010

That was scary!

On Friday we both went our separate ways, Dot, North to Auckland and me, South to Nelson. Dot flew Air NZ on a Boeing 737 which could easily handle the windy conditions of Wellington which was a stiff northerly with a slight cross wind across the runway. As my trip was a last minute decision the cheapest way I could find was Sounds Air which operate Cessna 208 Caravans. These are 12 seater aircraft originally designed for carrying freight to small airports and air strips. They have a very good safety record and there are something like 1700 of them flying around the world.

photo Auckland waterfront taken from West Haven Marina on Saturday afternoon

I had been watching aircraft coming and going while waiting and noticed that all the planes landing came down with the starboard wing lifting in the wind and the planes port side wheels hitting the runway first. Aircraft taking off were being bounced around but nothing too serious. The earlier Sounds Air Cessna seemed to get away without too much trouble so I didn’t think any more about it.

Once aboard, I sat behind the co-pilot, we had a slight delay due to a back log of aircraft waiting to land and take off. While waiting the plane was bouncing around a bit but this was nothing compared to what was to come. On take off the pilot was having trouble keeping the plane in a straight line on the runway and we had no sooner got off the ground when the plane tipped violently to the left. The pilot corrected this tipping us severely in the opposite direction. This happened several times before we reached 1000 feet above the end of the runway. At this point we were out over water in Evans Bay when the aircraft dropped a couple of hundred feet. Everybody’s hearts were in their mouths at this stage. It wasn’t until we reached 3000 feet that things started to settle down but even then it was still bumpy all the way up to 9000 feet before it calmed down completely.

Landing at Nelson was a breeze compared to the take off and we were all glad to be back on terra firma. The return trip on Sunday couldn’t have been more different with a clear sky and just the occasional cloud and very little wind. It was good looking down on Picton and the Marlborough Sounds with two Inter Island ferries passing by. Passing over the suburbs of Makara with the new Wind Turbine farm now up and running, and Ngaio where I spotted my old home.

1 comment:

nb piston broke said...

You have Pauls sympathy as in the 70's he flew from Aukland to the South Island on a plane similar to your description. His pilot was wearing a leather flying helmet and leather flying jacket. The plane was a converted freighter with no windows and the seats were reclining deck chairs. Could yours be one of the same. Glad you are both enjoying your trip hope to catch up some time all the best Lynne and Paul nb Piston Broke